I joined Daring Bakers just in time for the December Challenge, which was a Christmas Yule Log and which required three components, two of which I had never made before in my life. I was scared, but it went surprisingly well. This month's challenge was chosen by Jen of The Canadian Baker. Her choice was to make Lemon Meringue Pie, which once again, I had never made before in my life.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Daring Bakers concept, it's an ever-growing group of food bloggers who commit each month to making and posting about the same exact recipe on the same exact day (which will explain why you have been seeing dozens and dozens of Lemon Meringue Pies today all around food blogland).
We were given the choice of making one large pie or making small free-form tartlets or mini pies. Naturally, being a true Mini Pie Revolutionary, I went with the last option. I'm happy to say that I had no trouble with any of the components. I loved the crust-- it was, as another DB-er observed, almost cookie-like. The filling came together like a charm, and tasted velvety and sweetly tart. My meringue behaved itself perfectly, but I did cheat here. Instead of putting the pies back into the oven to brown the meringue I put them under the broiler. I am convinced this kept the filling nice and stable.
The little tarts kept quite well, too. I made them on a Thursday and then stored them in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator until my kids arrived to snarf them up on Friday and Saturday.
Thanks Jen, for a great challenge!
You can read the recipe if you click the link.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets
Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:
To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.
To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.
Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.
Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.
Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Tartlet recipe courtesy of Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz, 2003
Decoration is up to you - lemon zest or fruit are totally acceptable.
You can use a piping bag to apply the meringue if you like.
You can compliment your pie with a sauce. For example, you can serve it with raspberry or white chocolate sauce.
You can make one pie or tartlets (in a tin or free-form).